Policy governance procedures
Audience and applicability
All department staff involved in the policy management process.
|This policy procedure was developed to meet Audit of Policy Governance and Implementation (AP21/36) recommendation for a Secretary endorsed charter reflecting the Service Experience directorate’s responsibilities and authority in respect of the end-to-end policy process.
|Secretary, NSW Department of Education
About the policy
Concerned with the day-to-day operations of the department. It is one of several tools the department can use to meet its objectives. Operational policies interpret what the department requires staff to do, or what the department will do under specific conditions. It may include the actions needed (policy requirements or standards) and written instructions on ‘who does what, when and how’ (policy statements and procedures). Operational policy is published on the department’s Policy Library as either:
|Hosts the department’s current operational policies.
|The business owner responsible for overseeing the policy management process and ensuring the information’s relevance and accuracy during its lifecycle. All policies and procedures must have a policy owner.
|Typically refers to big-picture thinking that touches the entire system over long periods of time (Strategic policy explained).
- approves policies tabled by a deputy secretary (or equivalent).
- approve a new operational policy, or take this to the Executive for approval where appropriate
- approve significant changes to policy documents, or take an amended policy to the Executive for approval where appropriate
- approve rescinding a policy document, or take it to the Executive for approval to rescind where appropriate
- appoint policy owners for specific policy issues.
Executive directors (or equivalent):
- may approve initiating a project to create a new operational policy
- may approve initiating a project to significantly amend an existing policy document
- may approve undertaking a review of an existing operational policy
- may approve new policy procedures.
Executive director, Service Experience:
- oversees the governance of the department’s operational policies
- endorse the initiation of any new policy document for inclusion in the Policy Library
- endorse the rescission of an existing policy document
- monitors compliance with agreed policy review cycles, and enforce corrective measures as required.
Director, Service and Policy Governance:
- implements governance and quality assurance of the department’s operational policies
- advises policy owners across the department on developing, consulting, implementing, reviewing or rescinding policy so that policy documents meet required standards and align to the Policy Governance Framework
- ensures that approved policy documents are published on the department’s Policy Library
- implements measures to monitor and improve the policy development and review process
- where required, provides advice to the Executive, senior management, and policy owners on the department’s Policy Governance procedures.
Director, Digital Design and Delivery:
- ensures that the Policy Library displays current policy documents
- provides advice and support on publishing policy documents
- provides ongoing support for Policy Library improvements.
Policy owners (usually executive directors or directors):
- ensure operational policy documents can be accessed through the Policy Library
- oversee policy development, implementation and review in line with the user-centred design approach outlined on the Supporting policy managers website (staff only)
- liaise with Policy Design and Governance about policy management activities and standards, providing relevant updates on progress of reviews as needed
- keep records relating to the policy management process, in line with the department’s Records Management Program
- provide the required metadata for policy documents before publication
- may delegate any or all of the 5 processes above to staff reporting to them
- consult with Executive Director, Service Experience to explore the best way to mitigate an issue or risk and seek their concurrence before creating a new operational policy
- collaborate with other policy owners to ensure the department is positioned to effectively address an issue or risk while avoiding duplicative requirements and unnecessary workload for staff
- appoint a policy contact officer
- on request, report on the status of their policy documents, in relation to review cycles, relevance and accuracy of content
- if needed, make recommendations to the Executive Director, Service Experience to rescind the policy.
Policy contact officers:
- support the policy management processes
- respond to policy inquiries
- keep a record of user enquiries and issues to inform the operational policy’s continuous improvement.
What needs to be done
The department’s focus is on making sure schools and students are at the centre of everything we do. It makes sense to ensure that schools - usually the end users of our policy - and other policy users are central to the process of developing and reviewing policy.
1. Understand policy governance and lifecycle
Policy owners need to comply with the Policy Governance Framework when designing or redesigning policy requirements and documents to ensure a coordinated user-centric approach across the department, particularly for policies that affect the work of schools.
2. Design/redesign policy requirements and documents
Policy owners need to follow the review process to ensure policy requirements and documents are developed collaboratively, avoid duplicative and unnecessary requirements, and remove the need for schools to create their own policy documents.
Ensure policy documents go through the policy quality assurance processes during development and before being published. Documents need to be clear, concise and written in plain English, comply with accessibility and content style guides, and be structured and formatted in line with supplied templates. The department’s records management requirements apply in policy development and review.
3. Implement policy and support users
Support policy users where needed to interpret and contextualise policy requirements (deliver). The policy owner needs to appoint a policy contact officer and provide contact details in the Policy Library.
4. Monitor compliance and implementation issues
Policy owners need to monitor complianace with policy requirements and provide ongoing support for policy users and ensure policy documents are maintained. Maintain an issues register to gather feedback from policy users and feed this into a continuous improvement cycle.
5. Review policy relevance and effectiveness
Policy owners will undertake a desktop review of policy documents at least once a year. The policy governance team may ask for a report on the status of policy documents.
6. Maintain existing policy documents
Policy owners can work with Policy Design and Governance at any time in the policy lifecycle to maintain and routinely update policy documents, ensuring they are current and accurate.
Ensure documents go through the policy quality assurance processes during development and before being published.
7. Initiate operational policy
A new policy may be needed to respond to new risks, issues or function necessary for the department’s operation – only where amending a current policy is not sufficient to address the policy need. The Executive Director, Service Experience will need to endorse the initiation of any new policies. Contact Policy Design and Governance for advice.
8. Rescind operational policy
A policy review may result in a decision to rescind a policy. This may be because it is no longer relevant or effective, another policy solution has been implemented, or it is no longer required because the policy environment has changed. The Executive Director, Service Experience will need to endorse the rescission of any policies. Deputy secretary approval is required to remove a policy from the Policy Library. Contact Policy Design and Governance for advice.
The Executive Director, Service Experience monitors the implementation of this procedure, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.